Severed Ways DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 6.0
Video 6.5
Audio 8.0
Special Features 4.0
Audio 6.0
Distributor: Madman
Running Time: 107
Classification:
 MA15+
Reviewer:
Simon Black

6.0


Severed Ways

Severed Ways, the directorial debut of the heretofore unheard of Tony Stone, is a queer beast indeed.  A sort of Viking road movie, the film is set in the year AD 1007 and follows the exploits of two burly Norsemen, a blond and a brunette, as they traipse about what is now the continental United States in search of the exploration party from which they have become separated. 

Over the course of the feature’s generous 107 minute runtime the pair get up to all sorts of macho stuff like felling trees, making offerings to Odin, hunting, taking dumps in the woods, getting grudge-fucked by a randy squaw and exchanging blokey, if sparse, banter, of which the following is a smattering: 

Brunette Viking: ‘I caught this fucking fish, so don’t try to hog it all.’

Blond Viking: ‘Aw, shut up.’ 

At one point the point comment that the fish is ‘killer,’ and later on the thought is even expressed that if they stay in their present location much longer they’ll be ‘toast’ on account of the marauding Natives.  Now, I’m no linguist, but I suspect that some attempt is being made here to modernise the Nordic dialects of the 11th century.  This is far from the only anachronism however; at one point Blondie engages in a lengthy headbanging session to  Dimmu Borgir. 

This moment, like several others, is undoubtedly unintentionally humorous, but the relentlessly dramatic material is presented so earnestly that you can’t help but end up rooting for Stone, who also portrays one of the stoic duo.  For a no-budget film the director has also cobbled together a distinctly impressive soundtrack, featuring black metal A-listers like Burzum and Morbid Angel alongside more unlikely offerings courtesy of Melissa Auf der Mar and Queens of the Stone Age.  The songs have been well-chosen and are used to good effect within the film – one moment, when a church is burned to the apt refrain of the Norwegian Borgir - is particularly cool, and the link between the conqueror psyche of bygone eras and the present day neatly encapsulated.  The contrasts between Pagan traditions of the Middle Ages and the encroaching onslaught of Christianity are also dissected, all but literally, and expository flashback sequences of the duo’s homeland feature some of the most striking and ably captured footage of the entire piece. 

In many ways this is a bizarre and unapologetically idiosyncratic work, but it’s also daringly experimental, decidedly different and likely to appeal to a broader audience, if given a chance, than just curious headbangers and Viking recreationists. 

Audio & Video

Much in made in the promotional material of the film’s ‘throbbing black metal soundtrack’, and with good reason – it’s actually pretty great.  Varg Vikernes synth instrumentals double as a score, and the ‘Old Norse’ 5.1 soundtrack is a pulsating, textured and eminently impressive affair.  Picture quality varies, with some of the nocturnal scenes decidedly grainy, but overall picture quality is mostly respectable without being outstanding.  Be warned however – the film features the jumpiest, most extensive use of the handycam since The Blair Witch Project.  If that film made you queasy, Severed Ways will have you projectile vomiting by the end of the first scene. 

Special Features

There are six minutes of deleted footage, most of a fairly ambient and impressionistic ilk.  Also on offer are theatrical trailers and the usual Madman propaganda.






 
 



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